New regulatory mechanism in the offing | Sunday Observer

New regulatory mechanism in the offing

17 September, 2017
An electric cars’ charging station
An electric cars’ charging station

In view of a possible rise in electric cars on Sri Lankan roads in the near future the Government took its first step last week to formulate regulations to streamline a booming sector of electric car charging stations.

The Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL), the electric sector regulatory authority last week called for written submissions from the public with a view to draft regulatory tools for the charging stations.

According to the PUCSL, the country imported its first electric car in 2011 and currently it has about 4,500 cars on the road. In 2014, there were just 90 registrations of electric cars as against 3,238 in 2015.

Apart from cars, there are a limited number of electric motor tricycles, motorcycles, dual purpose vehicles and single cabs plying our roads.

With the news of China, the world’s biggest car market focusing on banning fossil fuel cars in the near future, pushing car manufacturers worldwide to fall in line, the popularity of electric cars is expected to shoot up, in the local scene as well. The Guardian reported that Britain has set itself a target to ban cars running on gasoline by 2040.

CEB blue prints

However, with a mere 50 privately owned Electric Vehicle Charging Stations (EVCS) concentrated mainly within the city, this has been a less sought after option for many in Sri Lanka, at present. The scenario is expected to change rapidly over a couple of years, with the CEB making blue prints to set up six Direct-Current Fast Charging stations islandwide before the year end.

“Our intention is to touch on the issues related to the electric Vehicle charging stations and report back to the government to help formulate a regulatory tool to protect consumer rights,” Director General, PUCSL Damitha Kumarasinghe told the Sunday Observer.

With an imminent growth, the PUCSL has been empowered by the Government to seek out public opinion. At the outset, views are accepted in writing but at the close of written submissions the PUCSL will be calling for oral submissions from all stakeholders – owners of charging stations, owners of electric cars, electrical suppliers, service station owners and the public.

“We want to ensure that this is an inclusive process,” the Chairman said.

The effort will be to identify consumer rights, determine the selling price of a unit and technical quality, such as, the time taken to recharge and voltage used, as well as on how to avoid hazardous situations. “Based on the views received we will make recommendations on a regulatory framework, “ he said.

The CEB already operates one Direct-Current charging station at the Kelanitissa power station. Their charges, currently approved by the PUCSL, are:

*Day time charges from 5.30 am to 6.30 pm – Rs. 50 per KW/H

*Peak time charges from 6.30 pm to 10.30 pm – Rs.70 per KW/H

*Off peak charges from 10.30 pm to 5.30 am – Rs.30 per KW/H

The charging time for the 25 KW/H battery capacity car is 25 minutes.

The regulatory body will also look into the possible constraints put on the already stretched energy sector with the expansion of the electric car sales, apart from the issues related to the charging infrastructure.

The Director General said, the PUCSL aims to cover the following areas through the public consultation process. Hence, views, suggestions, recommendations, concerns and comments on the following are welcome.

a) Requirement of maintaining and updating a register of authorized EVCS at CEB and LECO

b) Code of Practice for EVCS

c) Determination of end user tariffs, safety and other technical standards for EVCS

d)Rights and Obligations Statement for Consumers of EVCS

e) Issues faced by EVCS and consumers of such centres

f) Issues relating to residential

charging facilities

Written submissions will be entertained till October 4. A week after, the PUCSL will call for oral submissions, a venue and a date for oral submissions is to be announced next week.

Low cost energy

President of the CEB Engineers’ Union, Athula Wanniarachchi said, they endorsed the effort by the Government to move away from gasoline cars for a green culture but there has to be an effort to produce energy at lower cost to make it a success.Other countries have well thought out plans to generate low cost energy, to make electric cars affordable to consumers but we don’t have a proper plan.” He said, adding that the PUCSL has rejected their long term generation plan that had this in focus.

The CEB set up their first Direct-Current Fast Charging station at Kelanitissa Power station and this is already in operation. They plan to set up six more stations in Nuwara Eliya, Kandy, Pannipitiya, Kadawatha, Awissawella and Welipenna on the Southern Highway. More CEB stations are planned in 2018.

The CEB will also have Level 2 charging units at the fast charging stations with a lower tariff margin for the benefit of the consumers. The time of charging at these stations will take 2-3 hours. The Tariff structure will be – Day time Rs.30, Peak time Rs. 55 and Off Peak Rs.20.

CEB Deputy General Manager Research and Development, Ronald Comester said ,”Our main concern is the consumption during severe peak time (6.30pm-10.30pm) and a possible spike in that due to the electric cars.”

“With this in mind we have come up with the structured tariff system for charging stations,” he said.

“There is a sharp reduction of load after the peak time, forcing a major de-load after 10.30pm. Our target is to make this de-load as gradual as possible. The plan is to embark on an awareness campaign to encourage electric car users to use the off peak time to charge their cars, he said, adding that the development in the electric cars sector can be used to cushion the effects.

Comester said, they do not expect a sudden increase in demand for energy due to a surge in electric cars in the local scene but there could be a gradual increase but with proper planning this demand could be cushioned.

According to latest predictions in the Bloomberg’s Electric Vehicle Outlook 2017, the electric vehicles revolution is going to hit the market even harder and faster. Electric vehicles are on track to accelerate to 54% of new car sales by 2040.